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love2travel2LA May 5th, 2009 09:04 PM

kangaroo island
we are planning australia for august 09. we may have the choice between KI and ayers rock. any thoughts? also, seafront emu bay-is it good? do we need a guide and tour for KI. It is expensive-

Neil_Oz May 5th, 2009 09:53 PM

You'll hear various opinions here about KI. We made a DIY visit a few years ago and were completely underwhelmed, especially after paying the extortionate charges (I think $320 for car + 2 pax) for the ferry trip, which was over a distance you could practically spit - I truly believe the ferry company is operated by the descendants of the notorious Australian bushranger (= highwayman) Ned Kelly.* Both dinners we had on the island were deeply unimpressive.

Others have reported paying the not inconsiderable price for a B&B/tour package and been well satisfied. Maybe we should have decided "in for a penny, in for a pound" and paid up for the full treatment. You pays yer money, you takes yer chance.

Personally I would not go so far out of my way to see animals that for the most part can be seen in many other parts of Australia (except perhaps for the thoroughly unappealing sea lions, which I thought a rather disgusting lifeform). There are, after all, many more kangaroos than humans in Australia's 7 million square kilometres, and koalas are not exactly unknown either - I could find them, if I wanted to, 30 minutes' drive south of my Canberra home, for that matter. They're a pretty inert creature - and so would you be, if you ate nothing but tree leaves.

I suspect that KI is popular because its name leads many overseas visitors to believe that its wildlife is somehow unique. Well, they do have the only surviving pure Ligurian bees in the world, if bees are your thing, but you can buy nice honey (albeit produced by undistinguished, ordinary old honey bees) anywhere you go.

If it were my money I'd visit Ayers Rock (properly called Uluru in deference to its traditional owners), especially in winter. But I stress that I personaly never have, so you'd be best guided by those who have.

You might like to use the search function on this forum to turn up a few trip reports for both destinations.

* My reaction to that eye-watering ferry fare was confirmed a few years later when we took car ferries (a) from Port Angeles, Washington State to Victoria BC and (b) from Victoria to Vancouver BC, several hours travel in total, for a combined fare less than that abbreviated ride from the SA mainland to KI.

love2travel2LA May 5th, 2009 09:58 PM

thanks-i have been reading some of the reviews and they have been mixed. we are in australia for 2 weeks and want to see the best we can within that time frame. we are in sydney for 4days and GBR for 4 days and wanted to know another "highlight" we have teens and kids and want to make sure we do see the animal highlights-I hear we can see whatever is on the island elsewhere but sounds like we would have to drive all over or fly to see what can be seen in 2 days. that said, it is expensive-however, looks like uluru is expensive also-and is it worth traveling all that way to see a rock? you see my dilemma

Neil_Oz May 5th, 2009 10:08 PM

Sorry, I didn't answer your specific question - if you drive yourself you don't, strictly speaking, need a guide, but see my previous comments. The island is pretty sizeable, so you can't just walk around it. If you don't have a car you'll need some way of getting around or you won't see anything. From memory there's an official KI visitor's website ( - that should give you the options for getting there and what to do once you're there.

Bear in mind that Adelaide is a 1hr 20m flight from Melbourne and 2hr 10m from Sydney, and Cape Jervis, the ferry terminal for KI, is at least 2 hours' drive from Adelaide (but you can fly to KI from ADL).

love2travel2LA May 5th, 2009 10:13 PM

right now we have a flight from sydney to adelaide and will stay over night there and then fly to KI the next day for 2 days. I was having second thoughts when I saw how expensive it is for 2 days yet I want to give my family a special memory. I just don't want to be silly about it and spend a ton of money when it is perfectly good somewhere else and not so much out of the way. do you know how long the flight is from sydney to alice springs?

Susan7 May 6th, 2009 02:48 AM

Sydney to Alice Springs, I think, is about 3-4 hours, if it's a direct flight. But if you want to go to Uluru (Ayers Rock) you would need to fly into there, not Alice Springs.

I do think it is worth going (two days is in fact exactly the right amount of time to visit), it's extraordinarily beautiful and would give you a small taste of the centre.

lovingretirement May 6th, 2009 01:44 PM

My husband and I along with another couple are also going to Australia in late August for 3 wks. Since we've been often, this trip will mostly be in WA and sometime in SA, including 2 nts in KI. After doing a lot of research, including maps and guide books mailed to us from visitor center, we booked a R/T flight on Rex airlines from Adelaide. Since we did it sometime ago, our rates were very reasonable. We booked a stay at a B&B and will share the cost of a rental car for the 2 days we're there. If you have 2 full days, and a vehicle, you can easily get around the island on your own. You might not be able to identify every plant, etc that you might see, but all the guided tours seemed really expensive to us. Even some of the B&B owners we spoke to thought you could get around the island on your own. Just plan it out in advance so you don't waste alot of time once your there.

wlzmatilida May 6th, 2009 04:46 PM

Hi Lovetotravel LA!

Hello from the Bay Area....welcome!

I have to agree with Neil on his assessment of K.I. I also, was underwhelmed for the most part. (hey, we've already seen lots of sea lions in California!) I'm not saying it isn't a place to visit or isn't interesting, BUT, the emphasis on animals is somewhat misleading.

Re: driving yourself - in order to see many of the animals, say, koalas or kangaroos in the wild, you'd need a guide because you'd never know where to find them, and the guides have access to private land you'd never be able to get onto.

Honestly, IMO, I think Tasmania has more opportunities to see wildlife (in the wild) than K.I. does. (K.I.'s just got a bigger marketing budget - again, my opinion).

Your comment about Ayers Rock - "is it really worth travelling all that way to see a rock?" struck a chord as well. You know your family -- are they into a desert type of environment? Hiking? Riding on camels? Aborginal rock paintings, etc? As you've noted, that adds a good chunk of change onto your total cost. You can actually have those Aborginal experiences both in Sydney, (minimal) and in the Cairns area -(more varied).

Hope this is helpful!


Certified Aussie Specialist

love2travel2LA May 6th, 2009 07:04 PM

thank you all very much for your comments. I spent the day changing my itinerary and am now going to uluru instead of KI. I think though that some of my family may be sad about not seeing koalas and kangaroos (and fairy penquins) where do you think we could see them now with our new itinerary-sydney, GBR (rainforest) and ayers rock? would love some input on that. thanks again

sari80 May 7th, 2009 10:30 PM

Since you are visiting the Cairns area, you should look into taking a wildlife tour in the Atherton Tablelands area. There are several tour guides in this area that can help you see the wildlife in the wild, whether it be a sunset kangaroo tour or a spotlighting tour to find possums. You will see more birds and animals in the tablelands than you will in the Daintree/Cape Tribulation area. You can find several recommendations on this forum. My husband and I visited in 2006 and had a great time in the tablelands. We were only in Sydney one day and didn't visit Uluru, so I don't know what the possibilities are for seeing wildlife in those two areas.



BigRuss May 13th, 2009 12:05 PM

You can go to the Taronga Zoo and see them in Sydney. Sari's suggestion seems pretty good. You don't need to go to KI to see kangaroos or wallabies. Shoot -- we saw kangaroos hopping around in a little park in Barossa when we went there in '03.

And you made the right choice -- I've been to both KI and Uluru and the latter is a must see if you're going to Oz. I liked KI a lot and had a nice time there, but if the choice is one or the other, then the Red Centre of Australia is the winner and it's a no-doubt issue. Don't look back or think twice about it.

Melnq8 Jun 23rd, 2009 02:25 AM

Sure glad I found this post. I've now been talked out of KI for our upcoming trip to SA. If kangaroos and koalas are the main attraction, well, I just saw some of both a few days ago less than an hour from my house.

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